Paula Nickelson, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The Long and Short Game of Addressing Workforce Shortages

State departments of health play a huge role in America’s healthcare system, with responsibility for public health, licensure, public policy, and much more, so the workforce challenges they face have broad implications. “It will probably be twenty years before we really begin to bend the curve because many of the workforce shortages we encounter require very long-term strategies to change,” says Paula Nickelson, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Expanding slots for physician residencies and training opportunities for Certified Nursing Assistants are just two of the steps being pursued. Student loan reform, synching up higher ed with the needs of employers and better data management are also on her list but, as she tells Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan, Nickelson thinks these types of changes will not improve healthcare as much as a major shift toward prevention would. “We will never change our health indicators in a positive way, nor will we get out of the escalating spiral of acute care costs and long-term care costs, until we invest in public health and prevention.” This episode of WorkforceRx promises an insightful state-level perspective on workforce and health system challenges confronting the entire nation.

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